On a typical Monday morning Jess* was getting ready to go to her ultra-stylish office in the law practice, where she had advanced at a break-neck pace, and become a very young senior associate.Jess stood ironing one of her two dozen white blouses while tears trickled down her face. It was a scene that had repeated itself over and again for the past 40 Mondays or so and one that had become almost unbearable as it was familiar. By now Jess had finished ironing and was sobbing. It was the kind of head bobbing, shoulders heaving, soul wrenching sobbing that you see in big screen dramas. This drama had become part of Jess’s real world. When her boyfriend, Eric*, walked in, Jess knew he would try to comfort her, as usual and she would get through Monday and for another week, she would function like a well-oiled machine. But today would be different.
Instead of comforting Jess according to the well-versed routine, Eric literally blew his top; a rare thing for this laid-back guy! He slammed his hand against the door frame, “Enough of this, Jess! I won’t watch this anymore. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? If you are so unhappy, stop working for that firm! You’re intelligent, your young, you have a top education. For goodness sake, you have a choice!” The sheer force and heat of Eric’s words dried Jess’s tears instantly. How could she have missed that? She had a choice.
Eric’s words, “You have a choice”, still echoed in her head. It was true. She did not have to be miserable for another 40 Mondays or even another 40 days. She could choose to stop pretending that she was someone she had not been since she finished law school, accepted what seemed like an amazing offer and almost immediately realized that the high-paced, high-stress, high-conformity, sell-your-soul environment was someone else’s dream. Although she recognized very early on that her career choice collided with her core values and her idea of an ideal life, Jess did not feel she had a choice about her next career move. Wasn’t it too late? Wouldn’t leaving make her a quitter and a loser? What about all the time, energy and money that she had invested in the best university and a top-notch law school? What would her friends and family say about her walking away from a rock star career and a position and lifestyle other people envied? In fact, everyone seemed to love Jess’s life – except Jess.
“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!”
― Oscar Wilde
That day, Jess decided that she really did have a choice. She chose to take responsibility for herself, to slam the brakes and get off the expressway to burnout. Over the next few nights that followed her big “Aha!”, Jess carefully defined her exit strategy, she chose to give up her life as an imposter law firm clone, to pursue a career and a life in which she could use her brilliant mind and still express herself freely and authentically. She knew she wanted more than a hot career; she wanted a hot career and a life that fully reflected her personal values. – The Happy End
The Happy New Beginning – Today, Jess works with others who are now struggling with the issues that once brought her to tears every Monday. She is an absolute rock star! Oh, and she no longer owns any white blouses, although she still likes to iron clothes because she finds it “meditative.”
Does any of this resonate with you? Are you “functioning and performing well” without really living? Do you feel there is something else, something more out there for you? Are you worried that you might be headed for burn out? You can take responsibility for your life and change what has not worked for you so far. You have a choice; in fact you have several choices. You can do what you love and be happy. You can learn to love what you do and be happy. You can leave what you can’t learn to love and be happy. You can choose. And I can help you get from where you are now, to where you want to be.
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